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The [Wednesday] Papers

"The FBI thinks two men arrested in Amsterdam after suspicious items were found in the luggage of one of the men were probably not on a test run for a future terror attack, a U.S. official said Tuesday," AP reports.

Usually I'm skeptical of reports that smack of alarmism, but in this case I find myself leaning the other way. After all:

"Transportation Security Administration screeners found suspicious items in his bag: a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, multiple cell phones and watches taped together, and a knife and boxcutter, according to another U.S. official who had been briefed on the investigation."

A cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle?

"The bizarre incident began Sunday when bundles of wristwatches and cellphones stuffed inside Al Soofi's suitcase - a combination that could be used to simulate a bomb in a dry run - were spotted by airport screeners working for the Transportation Security Administration in Birmingham, Ala," the Tribune reports.

"But the items were deemed no threat to safety or security, officials said, and the bag and its owner were allowed to fly to Chicago."

Geez, I saw a woman at O'Hare a couple weeks ago forced to give up her contact lens solution because of the size of the container - and there wasn't even a watch taped to it!

Screeners at O'Hare allowed Al Soofi and the other man now being questioned to then fly on to Washington, D.C., apparently without having to even give up their box cutters.

"Other potential red flags included $7,000 in cash that Al Soofi was carrying and a final destination that is a terrorist breeding ground. Top U.S. officials have repeatedly warned about al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen."

And apparently intelligence suggests that contact lens solution on the way to Minneapolis is a threat.

The Detroit Free Press tries to help with a story titled "Making Sense Of Terror Scare." As always, a story with that headline makes a promise it doesn't fulfill. The piece also saved the questions first and foremost on everyone's minds for last:

Q: Is it unusual for travelers to bundle items together in their luggage? A cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together and several watches taped into a bundle were found in al Soofi's luggage and initially raised concerns.

A: According to Transportation Security Administration officials, it isn't unusual for travelers to bind items so they don't get lost or otherwise misplaced in transit. And, according to Yemen's consul general in Detroit, Abdul-Hakim Al-Sadah, it is common for Yemeni Americans to travel with such items when visiting family members because they are often gifts.

Q: What about the knife and box cutter found in al Soofi's luggage?

A: "I have no idea" what they might have been for, Al-Sadah said.

Q: With suspicious-looking items found in al Soofi's luggage in the U.S., why didn't authorities here detain them instead of letting them fly to Amsterdam and asking the Dutch to do it?

A: "The items were not deemed to be dangerous in and of themselves," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday.

What?!

For the first time I might truly be frightened by the terrorist threat. You get the feeling that those employed in our security sector arrive at work every morning in tiny cars and exit by the bunchful wearing floppy shoes.

Lottoriffic
"State officials have set a meeting for Sept. 8 to discuss Illinois' groundbreaking foray into allowing a private company to manage the state lottery," the Decatur Herald-Review reports.

"On Monday, as expected, the Illinois Department of Revenue named two foreign-owned firms as finalists for what could be a pact earlier described by one state official as the largest in state history.

"The companies are the Camelot Group, a Canadian-owned firm that operates the national lottery in the United Kingdom, and a consortium of companies called Northstar Lottery Group.

"Northstar is composed of Gtech Corp., Scientific Games Corp. and Energy BBDO, each of which already has a stake in operating the Illinois lottery. Gtech is a subsidiary of Italian lottery operator Lottomatica."

Okay, I'm not fond of the lottery and I'm not a raging nationalist and I realize that if an Illinois company was to win this contract it would be a porked-up indictment waiting to happen, but can't we use some stimulus money or something to put Americans to work here?

Yes, these companies will merely manage the lottery and probably employ locals to help out - and let me admit here that I'm writing this one with a fair amount of ignorance, I haven't done much research - but doesn't it seem like this will be case of money leeching out of the country through a crooked scheme to tax the poor and dumb through a fake game put in place because pols don't have the courage to raise taxes? And if that's the case, shouldn't the money at least go into the dirty pockets of fellow Illinoisans instead of dirty . . . um . . . furriners?

The Dutch are apparently already running our airport security. What's next, Italy running Taste of Chicago?

Meanwhile, we're still running two wars.

*

I do hope the lottery contract goes to the Italians, though, because it's fun to say Lottomatica.

*

A cell phone taped to Pepto-Bismol? To warm it up? Somebody help me here.

Fantasy Fix
Add Dan O'Shea to the roster of Beachwood writers (see No. 2) who are a pleasure to read even if you don't closely follow their content area.

I stopped playing fantasy football years ago, just because of the time-consumption, but Dan's weekly Fantasy Fix column is still a must-read to help keep up on the world of sports and gain insight from an expert. I'm proud that we offer smart, witty, quality writing on this site on a broad array of topics that somehow still tie together. Go Beachwood!

Anyway, this week Dan presents us with his list of NFL sleepers to look for - including a Bear - and predicts Manny Ramirez's output as a White Sock.

Publishing Note
Between now and through the Labor Day weekend we'll continue to post but things may get a bit thin and sketchy here and there depending on how much energy I have; I'm pre-occupied with some other Beachwood-related business and I've got to find a way to prioritize. So bear with us. Or send money.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Will listen for food.



Permalink

Posted on September 1, 2010


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates.
POLITICS - Offshore Leaks Database.
SPORTS - Beachwood Radio: Broken Bears; Cubs' 7-Year Itch.

BOOKS - Inside The Book Of The Dead.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Lakes, Cheese & You.


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